The longer days and sunshine have pushed winter out, and we’ve all got a healthy dose of spring fever. There is still plenty of snow in the mountains above the city, and lots of cleanup left to do here in town. It’s that time of year again, when for good or ill, Anchorage has thawed out. The long days and rising mercury are welcome but the cleanup the long winter leaves us with is a chore. Roads have shattered and cracked, buckled and heaved, opening gaps that threaten even the most ridiculous SUVs. Gravel pelts the windshield, making me jumpy on the morning commute. Dirty water collecting in dirty pools along the gutters never has a chance to settle before another car sprays through, leaving just a little more gray muck behind. A winter’s worth of garbage emerges from the receding gravel and ice. Tires, paper, everything you can think of is out there decorating the medians. Our office goes out each May and picks up garbage, part of the city cleanup program. One year a group from another office discovered a rusty handgun. Another stumbled on a dismembered mannequin, and I can only imagine that first glance.
Change in the season equates to changes in appetites, in cravings. For me there is a definite bunker mentality that sets in around the end of November and the lighter fare just stops having any allure. Heavy stews, pasta in rich sauces, hunks of meat with gravy, fresh crusty bread with too much butter. These are the things that winter brings, but as we move swiftly into the lighter side of our year it’s time to put the crock pot away. After the coldest March on record, we’re on our way to record-setting warmth in April. Bring on the fruit and the bright salads, the light fish, and the fresh corn on the cob. Please don’t forget the mojitos, or the micheladas. Summer isn’t here yet. My friend Tyler just bought new skis, and took them out for their inaugural turns today. There’s still fresh snow in the mountains, and although the neighborhood smelled strongly of charcoal grills this weekend, no one is dining in their backyards yet. Soon.
asian shrimp citrus salad:
1 pound shrimp
2 tbs nam pla (Thai fish sauce)
1 tbs soy sauce
juice of two limes
1 tbs sugar
1 diced red chili
2 tbs grapefruit juice
4 cups chopped/shredded Napa cabbage
2 grapefruit, peeled and sectioned
1/5 cup chopped Thai basil
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup chopped peanuts
Devein and peel the shrimp. I like to grill mine on wooden skewers, but you don’t need to. Brush the shrimp with a little peanut oil and sautÃ© or grill with salt and lime juice to taste. They only need a couple of minutes in a hot pan to cook through. Set them aside to cool. To make the dressing, whisk together the fish sauce, soy, lime juice, sugar, and grapefruit juice until it’s well blended. Mix the cabbage and sections of grapefruit together gently, and arrange on plates. Top with shrimp skewers, and drizzle the dressing over the top. Season with the pepper flakes, chili, peanuts, and fresh basil. Fresh mint and or cilantro would go well on this, too. I served mine with creamy avocados and sweet marinated red onions to cut the heat.
1 red onion, sliced as thin as possible
1 tbs lime juice,
1 tbs soy sauce
1 tsp honey
Mix and whisk the liquids together and toss lightly with the sliced onions. Chill for at least two hours. These go great with sliced avocados, on a panini, or in your next gourmet burger.